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For several years, many people have demanded that President Trump release his detailed personal and business tax filings. All American presidents for the past four decades since have done so, but Trump has said on record that not paying taxes makes him smart.
Since paying taxes falls under the umbrella of Trump’s often-cited “law and order” and Trump promised to release his tax returns during his first presidential campaign, some Americans have asked whether Trump is hiding something. A recent development suggests the answer might come soon.
What is the newest Trump tax story?
Today in Manhattan, a federal appeals court consisting of a three-judge panel in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected President Trump’s claim against a grand jury subpoena of his tax returns. The president’s lawyers unsuccessfully argued that the subpoena was too broad, politically motivated, and issued in bad faith.
Not long before this ruling, a report detailed more than two decades worth of President Trump’s tax returns. The investigation revealed that Trump had paid $750 in U.S. income tax each year for 2016 and 2017. Additionally, in 10 of the previous 15 years, Trump and his companies paid no U.S. income taxes because Trump reported losing much more money than he made. Prior to his presidency, Trump developed a reputation as a successful businessman, and some say that these recent tax revelations call Trump’s legacy into question
Trump’s personal and business tax information revealed that he faces a decade-long Internal Revenue Service audit over a $72.9 million tax refund he received that could end up costing him more than $100 million. Additionally, Trump reportedly has $300 million in loans due within the next few years that he must personally repay.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has publicly expressed concern about Trump’s tax returns because they create a “national security issue.” Since Trump owns businesses internationally, Pelosi and others worry that, given his debts, foreign countries or individuals may have “leverage” over him.
Why did it take this long to get Trump’s tax records?
President Trump and his lawyers have fought legal and political battles for years to prevent public access to his tax returns. Today is the fifth time the courts have rejected the president’s attempts to block the subpoena to release eight years of his personal and business tax returns. Trump has remained adamant that his taxes are irrelevant and don’t explain the big picture of his financial status since they report revenue and not profit.
What taxes have other candidates paid?
Last Tuesday, before the first presidential debate, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Senator Kamala Harris released their 2019 tax returns. Biden and his wife’s filings showed income of $944,737 and a federal tax bill of $299,346. Harris and her husband reported $3,018,127 in taxable income and paid $1,185,628 in taxes. The Biden campaign has now released 22 years of tax returns, and Harris has released 15 years of tax returns.
In 2019, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders released 10 years of his tax returns before his 2020 campaign. In 2016 and 2017, Sanders and his wife earned $1,062,626 and $1,131,925, respectively. The Vermont senator became a millionaire mainly from sales of his Our Revolution book series.
Vice President Mike Pence released 10 years of his tax returns during President Trump’s 2015 campaign. He hasn’t released his tax returns since then.
How are voters reacting to the Trump tax story?
If President Trump’s tax returns stay in the spotlight, it may hurt Trump electorally. According to a recent poll, about two out of three Americans want to see President Trump’s income tax returns. Additionally, nearly half of the 1,115 people surveyed believe Trump has been withholding his tax returns for political reasons.
Despite the controversy, Trump’s polling numbers are better than at this time in 2016. According to an analysis from Real Clear Politics, Biden holds a 4.4-point lead over the president in swing states Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, Florida, and North Carolina. Currently, on FiveThirtyEight, President Trump has approximately 45.5 percent of the popular vote compared to Biden’s 53.3 percent.